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REALVIZ Stitcher 3.1

Ease of use and versatile output make Stitcher a must have program By Stephen Schleicher

Long ago, in a time now almost forgotten (the ?80s), I was heavily into photography. Black and white, color, processing my own negatives, developing my own prints, and learning composition and lighting that would serve me years later in my video work. At the time I became very interested in wide panoramic shots. Not those fish-eye lens shots displaying a distorted view of the world, but rather those wide sweeping vistas reminiscent of a John Ford movie, or those professional panoramas that hung on the wall in some capital building sometimes as large as ten feet by four feet--noticed by not appreciated. I always wanted to go to a place like the Grand Canyon and take a panoramic shot that would run the entire length of a wall. However, the cost of a camera/lens package that could take a seamless 180 to 360 degree image was way more than a young student could afford (and still is). And trying to match negatives and exposure on a large continuous sheet of photographic paper was very time consuming and imprecise, leaving me without my dream photograph.

As times changed, so did the technology used to acquire such photos. A year or so ago I was able to get a demonstration of a digital version of the seamless camera/lens package mentioned a moment ago, but again, too expensive for the average Joe User. There needed to be something that would allow a photographer to capture these shots using a simple camera and tripod. In answer to this problem, this past week I received REALVIZ Stitcher 3.1.

Something for everyone
Because of the quality and versatility of the rendered output, REALVIZ Stitcher is ideal for Web, animation, video, and film use. On the surface, Stitcher appears to be a good tool for generating panoramic shots. But looking at the different files and formats it supports suggest otherwise.

As far as import goes, REALVIZ Stitcher recognizes and can use the following file formats:
SGI Image
SoftImage Pictures
Tagged Images (.tiff)
Truevision Targa
Windows Bitmap
Files supported by QuickTime

Stitcher is able to import a variety of different image formats, including those that are 16-bit
Stitcher is great for those working in the Web environment with enhanced QuickTime VR support that will let you set options for movie size, preview, tiling and navigation constraints. It also allows you to export the raw data for further enhancement such as interactivity and hotlinks within the movie. NBC has used Stitcher to create a virtual tour of the Will and Grace set where users can click on items and learn more about the production. If QuickTime isnt your thing, Stitcher also allows you to export the data in Macromedia Shockwave and VMRL formats.

Animation houses will find Stitcher useful for creating background plates and reflection maps of surroundings that allows for perfect blending of real world and CG elements. Stitcher has the ability to render planar, cubic, spherical and cylindrical projections. If you have a digital camera that can capture HDRI data, you can quickly create a 3D environment that uses the image map as the light source.

Finally, for those working in the film industry, Stitcher supports 16-bit images for highly detailed and high-resolution work.

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Related Keywords:Realviz, stitcher, panoramic photo, animation, digital webcast, stephen schleicher, image manipulation, mac, pc, creative mac, image editing, animation, web development, QuickTime VR, 3D

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